Saturday, December 21, 2019

Memory Lane, Part One

Your Humble Scribe, command pilot, The Olde Vermonter in the right seat.
That photo from a Christmas long ago, early 60s I'm guessing, shows Your Humble Scribe and kid brother, The Olde Vermonter, showing off their no doubt newly acquired Steve Canyon helmets, complete with visors and oxygen masks. As you'll note I am gripping the imaginary control wheel and am checking for bandits in the sun.

The Olde Vermonter, like good co-pilots everywhere, has his hands in his lap, keeping his mitts away from the controls, and is scanning a different quadrant than his pilot. Or he could be asleep, it was a long time ago. But he certainly was obeying the following dictum -

Note as well that we're probably bomber pilots, B-52 I would guess, and we're in comfortable chairs. Though I wonder at the foreshadowing of me in a rocker. Yes, I'm old now, but I'm not that old. And yes, flight suits had plaid shirts back in the day, and jeans with suspenders, I'm sure of it.

While not a Christmas memory, I like the memory sparked by this picture -

Aerobatics and formation flying in an antique aircraft high above the forests of Massachusetts (near Fitchburg for those who are wondering). Thirty minutes of barrel rolls, split-Ss, loops, and Immelmann turns. Most fun you can have with your clothes on. (Ooh, did I just type-speak-write that out loud?)

But memories, I'm here to write about memories, specifically those surrounding this time of year. I was going to rerun this post, which is a really fond memory of the first time I spent a Christmas at my kids' place. The Nuke and The WSO were sharing a town house in Virginia Beach at the time, it was a lot of fun. My daughters were out on their own, living large. The Nuke had a little tree set up and lovingly decorated. Such good times. Go read that post, I'll wait here...

Back already? Let's continue.

The Missus Herself and I have spent a number of Christmases down in the Old Dominion, a few in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area and a few up in the DC area, to include last year's trip to Annapolis. One memory, which actually occurred after Christmas when we met up with The WSO and her tribe, to include her in-laws down from Michigan, at The Nuke's place for New Year's, always makes me chuckle.

We were being shown the sights of Alexandria, still decked out in Christmas lights, marveling at the actual gas lights which still adorn some of the houses in Old Town, when out of a side street, some idiot pulled right in front of us, nearly causing a collision.

Now know this, The Missus Herself seldom indulges in foul language or cursing (though when she's really mad at me, I've heard Korean words which I'm pretty sure would make a longshoreman blush). She almost never cusses in English, save for the very rare "damn it." But there we are, enjoying the Christmas lights and reminiscing about Christmases past when the kids were young, when suddenly we're nearly in a collision.

As the offending car sped away and we all sort of sat there in shock, out of the mouth of my lovely wife we all heard...

"Well, Merry freaking Christmas..."

To this day, whenever the season of good will on Earth and Peace and Joy comes around, The WSO, The Nuke, and I will look at each other and say -

"Merry freaking Christmas!"

The Missus Herself, though somewhat embarrassed by the memory of her blurting that out, will at least smile and shake her head. Whilst remarking that her two daughters and, of course, her husband, that would be Your Humble Scribe, are indeed, idiots.

May you find laughter and joy this holiday season.

I'm pretty sure I will...


  1. The very best jokes are those that include an "inside" element, and especially those originating in a family. Merry freaking Christmas!

  2. Indeed. A Merry Freaking Christmas Sarge, thanks for the early morning chuckle. That first photo..... just think of them being early applicants for the........... Space Force!

    1. Hahaha, Space Force! My brother and I would fit right in.

    2. Still waiting to see what their uniforms will look like. I mean, yada, yada, space forces, yada, yada... Come on already, let's get to the important stuff. Uniforms. UNIFORMS!!!!

    3. I can hardly wait. Comic opera? Or serious stuff. You never really know when new generals get to design uniforms. DAMHIK.

    4. Go to Flash Gordon or Buzz Corey - Space Patrol. I’m pretty sure that’s what the snowflakes running the DOD - Space Force will choose. In that episode about the “Giant of ...” , notice the size of the wings on that guy. I used to think mine were that big. I’m sure Juvat, Tuna and VX agree.

    5. Guy must be an O-6.

      Man does that take me back. Good stuff Dave!

  3. Those helmets are too cool. I'm impressed!! I got to do spins once, and I totally agree with you.

    MFC - it needs to be on the acronym page OAFS! Pass along our Happy Christmas wishes to the Missus.

    1. So let it be written, so let it be done.

      Happy Christmas to you and yours!

  4. Well...Little Juvat and DIL will arrive on the 23rd. MBD and SIL will be celebrating Christmas with his family this year. So we'll be having the big celebration on Boxing Day this year. However, we'll have a few "practice" celebrations on Christmas Eve just the four of us (Pork Carnitas, Pork where they're located), Christmas Eve my Sister will join us (Smoked Rib Roast, because...Beef!) and then Boxing Day with MBD, SIL and Mrs J's Sister (Cassoulet and Green Chili Mac and Cheese because MBD is a recovering vegetarian). Given all that, I'm certain it will, indeed, be a Merry Freaking Christmas. However, in all seriousness, I wish all y'all (you know what that means) a Merry Christmas also.

    1. Yum, the food, oh gosh, the food. Makes me want to saddle up and be at your place in time for chow. (On another note, Bill Brandt, keeper of the Lexican archives, visited the museum in your lovely town, lots of good pictures on Koobecaf. So seriously, I need to get down there.)

      A Merry Christmas to the members of the juvat clan. Eat well, drink well (yeah, yeah, responsibly), and may love fill your dwellings now and throughout the year.

      ¡Feliz Navidad!

    2. There's a billboard, by the Florida Cattleman's Association, on the northbound lane of I-75 just north or south of Ocala that has been there for years.

      Beef - It's what vegetarians cheat on their diet with.

      Love that sign.

  5. So... for grins I translated “Merry freakin’ Christmas” to German.
    Yeah, it do anything for me, either, but the acronym is FFW.
    So there is that.

    May there be laughter and joy wherever you are on Christmas and every day.
    Merry Christmas.

    1. Hahaha!

      I don't need to look that one up.

      You and yours as well Skip.

  6. Ah, memories, how else would we fill the constant guilt track that runs through our heads...

    It is good to be able to have people to celebrate with. Whether it's your troops, or your significant other (for those not married but shacked up... IN SIN!!!! (which was wonderful, before the wedding, according to both Mrs. Andrew and Beans.) or extended family or friends or both. This is not the time of year for loneliness.

    So, well, to all, and to past commenters that are still out there and who we miss, Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve Eve. (whew.)

    1. MCEEEE!

      Sounds like a scream in Gaelic...


    2. Not enough slurring, spitting and hawking.

      Now, if it was Welsh, we'd need to figure out which one of the consonants is actually a vowel, and which E is a consonant...

    3. Too short to be Welsh. Would look more like: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

      No, I can't pronounce it, but it's a place name. But you knew that, dintcha?

    4. Yes, I did.

      And I can even sing a Welsh song in a surprisingly good Welsh accent.

      And say some names. Llewellyn doesn't sound like Lou-Ellen. There's no real way to write schllouhellyne and make it come out quite like the natural Llewellyn.

    5. Man, you are an ever amazing font of knowledge Beans. Impresses me it does.

      (No, you can't write your next post in Welsh...)

  7. An OAFS Christmas song.

    Have yourself a Merry Freaking Christmas,
    Let your heart be light
    Next year all our troubles will be out of sight

    Have yourself a Merry Freaking Christmas
    Make the Yuletide gay
    Next year all our troubles will be miles away

    Once again as in olden days
    Happy golden days of yore
    Family and friends who are dear to us
    Will be near to us, once more

    Someday soon we all will be together
    If the fates allow
    Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow

    So have yourself a Merry Freaking Christmas now

    Once my mental voice sings it a couple of times, the lyric change will be locked into my memory.

    Route 13 from Philly to Norfolk and back again. Drove that many times during active duty, and since my reserve unit was attached to the Emory S. Land (AS-39) and she was in Norfolk, I drove that route several times a year during my time assigned to the Land Unit.

    Really good post.

    1. Oh great! Another ear worm. I just spent the waking night with “holly, jolly, Christmas”

    2. Dave.
      You could sing, "Have a Merry, Freaking, Christmas." The changed lyrics work well with the Burl Ives song! :)

    3. John the 2nd - Why can I hear Burl Ives singing that? Too funny!

    4. Did AS-39 ever get underway after 1980? They was serious about that "Land" stuff!😇

    5. PrairieAdventure.
      My first two week ACDUTRA was aboard Land in '81 or '82, she left Norfolk and steamed up to Halifax.
      I was an engineroom snipe, but I'd learned a fair bit about seamanship when I was on my last active duty can.
      From what I observed while the Land was at sea, I decided that tenders should have their engines removed, and only leave the pier under control of tugs.
      On the way back from Halifax they got a distress call from a sailboat. The sailboat requested that she be allowed to get in our lee so that she could put up a storm rig.
      The attempt to do so resulted in the sailboat's masts getting jammed up into the shore power cable booms and that snapped both masts off the sailboat and then the sailboat drifted away in a mess of floating spars, rigging, and mast fragments.
      The skipper of the Land eventually got the Land close enough to the sailboat to try to get a line across to her.
      I was standing on deck watching the comedy of errors and I saw an officer turn to a Gunner's Mate and order him to fire a line into the boat.
      He took that quite literally and leaned over the handrail with his line throwing rig equipped M-14 and fired straight down into the sailboat's cockpit.
      The sailboat cockswain looked at the rod from the line throwing gun that was sticking out of a cushion and pretty near had an involuntary waste discharge.
      We eventually took the sailboat in tow, and the Land radioed to her that the Coast Guard would take over in the morning.
      As soon as the words, "Coast Guard" were received by the sailboat the sailboat crew began throwing a large number of bulky trash bags over the side. Quite a coincidence. (snort)
      This might have been the trip where the Land's attempt to capture something floating that looked like a missile nose cone ended up with the nose cone sinking, and almost swamping the motor whaleboat.
      Like I said, she was built to stay pierside and fix subs, she should not have been allowed at sea without an adult escort.

      In fairness, I rode her across the Atlantic in '87 when she deployed, the trip was uneventful, and I got a three day visit to Lisbon out of the deal, and a flight home.

      Your comment brought a flood of memories back.

    6. Great stuff John! I knew one of the Land's Medical Officers but I'm blanking on her name. She said much the same kind of thing about taking her to sea and always said they had welded her to the pier after a sea period in 1980. It's cool to know that she did get underway again. I can see where the sailboat would want to dump "trash" before the mud ducks arrived; they'll ticket you for sea-littering in a heartbeat! Also sounds like the GM was quite a marksman and perhaps a bit of a joker. You gotta be pretty careful about issuing orders to Guns and Boats. ;-)

      You've now sparked some memories for me, thanks!

    7. USS Emory S. Land is now in Guam. Probably to keep that island from tipping over...

    8. Well I'll be a dirty word! Here all of these years I thought she was an ancient 1930's era rustbucket. Forty years later I find out she was newer than the boat I was deployed on in 1980, which still had that new carrier smell. I hereby take back all my old contemptuous thoughts. Although as a sub tender, as John said, she probably doesn't really want to spend much time underway. Anyway, thanks for larnin' me some good stuff guys.

    9. You might be thinking of the Vulcan, she was built in the late thirties and was a general repair ship in Norfolk in the seventies. She had an interesting career, serving through WWII and decommissioning in the early nineties.

    10. PA - No sweat GI. We're senior citizens, we can remember stuff the way we want and make the young'uns suffer through all of our old stories. Well, at least I do. 😁

    11. John - We have a Vulcan? Cool.

      I know you meant USS Vulcan (AR-5). I enjoy the history lessons I get from my readers.

  8. I have a couple of neat MFC stories. NSFFB so I'll have to recount them over at the E-Club.

    Another good carol is JFB. Sounds best in the club though.

    Merry Freaking Chrismas to all you fine folks!

  9. My late father had a gift, and ear, for languages. He was fluent in Hindu, passable in Navajo, an spoke some Spanish. Angered, he was known to curse in all four at once. Colorful, to say the least but probably not appropriate when the the town Christmas tree, sponsored by the Odd Fellows Lodge, toppled over during the lighting ceremony.

    1. Now that would have been a sight to see. (And hear for that matter!)

  10. Love those family memories. We have one from Thanksgiving where someone have asked if there was some delicious turkey left and my mother said "Yes, but not much!" in a very animated way. That phrase has become our go-to saying every time we're together for a meal. It's even more special now that she is gone.

    1. Those kinds of memories are more precious than gold...

  11. @OFAS/

    That "Co-Pilot Checklist"pic is SO true. Although we wet-behind-the-ears new F-4 types didn't even have the "CO" part of it. No we lowly-status F-4 back-seaters were simply "GIBS"---and it wasn't a compliment. My battle-hardened senior O-5 front-seater (who had previously flown only single-seat fighters his entire career) in the first squadron I was assigned to LITERALLY told me: "Don't touch anything and don't key the mike unless *I* talk to *you*, Lt." LOL!

    1. Sounds about right. Nowadays the GIBS aren't even rated!

    2. OMG-when did the non-rated bit start, sarge??!!! Shows how far behind the power-curve *I* am.. (:

    3. Backseat in the F/A-18F doesn't normally even have a stick. You can put one in, which they'll do in training, but normally not.

      Not sure when that started.

    4. Huh. guess it's "back to the future" 'cause iirc it was same in one of the old pre Century Series two-seat all-wx interceptors ; the F-89D Scorpion, or F-94C Starfire.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

NOTE: Comments on posts over 5 days old go into moderation, automatically.